Today’s Stop: Traveling up the River Exe

Today, we’ve moved along the Southern Coast of Devon from the town of Dawlish and up the mouth of the River Exe. Dawlish lies on the Western Shore of the River Exe and was just covered in my last post. As we travel up The River we come across the communities of Littleham, Kenton, Powderham, Exton, Woodbury, Clyst St George, Topsham, Exminster and Alphington which together comprise 67 Records.

Devon and the River Exe

We are intentionally stopping at the outskirts of Exeter which serves as the County Seat of Devon, Exeter. Exeter is a large city and has more than 100 records of its own. So, we will examine that in our next excursion.

The River Exe – Detail


As we enter the mouth of the River Exe we see our first stop at Littleham, which adjoins Exmouth to form the Eastern mouth of The River. In Littleham we find an offshoot of Devon Pedigree (Monkleigh 1785) which we used to refer to as Devon Pedigree 03.

George Henry & Sarah Ann (Handcock) Babb seems to have moved frequently, with destinations including Bideford, Instow, Westleigh before settling in Littleham sometime after the birth of their children in the 1880s. It does not appear that any of the children came with them. At this time they appear not to have merged with the other area Babbs and lived several miles away from the others in this excursion. George is #7 in the report below.


A couple of miles/km inland we arrive at Kenton & Powderham on our Port side. In Kenton we find Babbs dating back to 1698 when George Babb & Margaret Cummin made their lives. Not seeing any close matches we establish a new tree called Devon Pedigree (Kenton 1698). It is here they have their 4 children, one of whom is known to have born children, John Babb. John’s children are Jone & John and it is there that this line currently ends.


From Kenton we can clearly see Powderham Castle a 1⁄4 mile to the north-east. Powderham Castle is a fortified manor house situated within the parish and former manor of Powderham. It is a Grade I listed building. The park and gardens are Grade II* listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Powderham Castle also served as a backdrop for the 2009 Babb Reunion, as it has for previous reunions in England.

Powderham Castle Gardens – 2009
2009 Babb Reunion at Powderham Castle

There is just one record in this location, but given its significance to those that have attended the reunions, I wanted to help bring the location to life.

Thomas Babb & Mary Blackstone were married on the former manor of Powderham on 29 Oct 1747. Curiously, it is a favorite destination for weddings to this day. As nothing more is known about Thomas & Mary, they form the new line Devon Pedigree (Powderham 1747).


Exton, Woodbury, Clyst St George & Topsham

As we continue our journey up the River Exe we arrive at a tight cluster of communities that share one main family tree. This is a newly formed tree by the name of Devon Pedigree (Topsham 1609).

In a rarity for this type of records I was able to reconstruct the family unit which was previously unknown to me and apparently my predecessor Ian Henry Babb.

The tree stretches about 150 years and covers a total of 7 generations. Topsham contains the oldest records of this excursion and with more or less just one family unit in the area it was pretty easy to see how things should be put together. It is the longest string of early Babbs that I’ve found in my canvassing of Devonshire.


Immediately to the left of Topsham lies the town of Exminster. This is where the river narrows significantly and further inland becomes a much narrower passageway. In this town we found two new trees that are likely related. There were 2 males of child bearing age in Devon Pedigree (Exminster 1623) at the time the first record in Devon Pedigree (Exminster 1661) Occurs. Thus, it was impossible to make a positive connection and required the 2nd tree to be created. The last known record of these two trees is in 1692.


Traveling up river just a little further we find Alphington, which shares the Northern border of Exminster and the South Western border of Exeter. It is here that Richard & Mary (Waterman) Babb moved and raised their 4 children. Richard hails from Devon Pedigree (Halberton 1718) which was previously known as Devon Pedigree 06 in Ian Babb’s system. Richard is #5 in the report below. I should note that this is NOT the same line that belongs to the Gryphons of Halberton, but is likely related.


We can see evidence that appears to indicate that the Gryphons of Halberton were the family that populated this area. However, there are numerous Babb families that predate the known entrance of the Gryphons. We cannot deny or confirm that the connection is possible.

However, in Littleham, we see another family from Bideford and Monkleigh that does not appear to have any connection to the other. Great care should be taken in this area to not make false assumptions of a connection that isn’t documented be either DNA or a Paper Trail.

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